Cockatiel in a nutshell

Species: Nymphicus hollandicus
Family: Cacatuidae
In Finnish:
Neitokakadu, neitoparakiitti, nymfiparakiitti, nymfi, nymfikakadu, nymfipapukaija
In English: Cockatiel
In Swedish: Nymfkakadua
In German: Nymphensittich
In Australia:
Cockatiel, weero (weiro), quarrion (quarrian)

About 30 cm. Half of the length comes from the tail.
Age: 15-25 years
Weight: 80-120 g
Sex: Different looking
Distribution: Almost the whole Australia, except the coast and Tasmania.
Price (in Finland): 80-200 e
Maturity: In the age of about eight months
Recommended age for breeding: 2-14. (1,5 years is the minimum)
Breeding season: Rainy season
Nest: In wild: Tree holes, mostly nearby water. As a pet: In the nestbox.
Eggs: 4-7 pieces, all white.
Diet: In wild: Grains, berries, and seeds from a different type of bushes, weeds, trees, grasses, and hays. As a pet: Parakeet seed mix, canary/budgie mix, millet, pellets, fresh vegetables and fruits, and possibly some extra nourishment.
The minimum size of the cage (based on finnish recommendations): Area should be 0,75 m² for one bird. For every bird after that adds 0,10 m² to the area. The shortest side has to be minimum of 55 cm. A suitable cage for a cockatiel pair would be for example 100×100 cm (about 40×40 inches). …But they still need to get to fly daily.
Migration: Migrating bird
Sociality: Lives in flocks or as pairs
The oldest known age of a cockatiel: 36-years-old
The number of the color varieties: Author has found 18 different mutations for now, plus a few uncertain cases.
Rythm of the day and night: 12/12
Lenght of the wing: 16-18 cm
Mean length of the crest:
In the wild: 4-6 cm, as a pet 4-11 cm.
The grip of the foot: Toes are suitable for climbing. Two of the four toes are pointed in front and the other two to the back.

The Cockatiel

The cockatiel is a little parrot species that is a member of the Cockatoo family (Cacatuinae). The origins of the cockatiel are in Australia where it has spread widely apart from the coast side. They are usually observed in flocks or as pairs, living in the open fields.

Cockatiels are thought to be the smallest species of the Australian cockatoos, and the English name “cockatiel” comes from the Portuguese word “cacatitho,” which means a small cockatoo. Cockatiels are the only variety of cockatoos with long, wedge-kind-of tails, slender bodies and long, sharp wings. Their behavior also includes some features that are part of the characteristics of cockatoos. They are also very phenomenal flyers, which is relevant during the migration: cockatiels migrate in order to locate their food.

Wild cockatiel’s diet consists of different grains, seeds, and berries. Also, as a pet, the cockatiel should be offered as comprehensive diet as possible, and not limited to seed mixtures. If I had to name something challenging about this species, it would be its fastidiousness, which is why the cockatiels should be trained to eat a variety of foods.

The cockatiel is known in Australia by several names. For example, in Victoria it would be called “cockatiel”, but the Aboriginals have even more names, for example, “quarrion’ (in New South Wales) and “weero” (in Western Australia) The scientific name “Nymphicus hollandicus” means literally a nymph of a New Holland, since Australia was named as New Holland by some Dutch explorers in 1600. In the year 1926, the RAOU (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union) confirmed the English name, “cockatiel”, to be official.

Cockatiels breed near water, in a tree hole. The breeding period is in the rainy season, when there is plenty of food and water for the chicks. The average number of eggs laid is 4-7, but not every chick will survive to adulthood. Some of the eggs may not even hatch. Those eggs are still left in the nest for support and warmth for the other chicks.

As a pet, the cockatiel is very popular. Juveniles are relatively easy to tame, and they can be taught to mimic different whistles and even some words. A cockatiel is said to be easy to care for, and it is seen as a bird that forgives many mistakes of its owner. Perhaps this is partially true, but concentrating on this idea has resulted from lousy care and management, incomplete surroundings and shortened lifespan. Cockatiels can live up to 20-25 years, but most of the cockatiels live to the age of 12 or so.

The cockatiel has no races or subspecies, and it has not changed much in captivity apart from color breeding. Showing has somewhat increased their body and crest size. Therefore, cockatiels are considered domesticated.

They are flock/pair-orientated animals, so they need the company of other cockatiels. They also need a lot of exercise, which includes flying outside of their cage. Flying capability is crucial to their physical and mental wellbeing. It is a common misbelief that a cockatiel wouldn’t be tame without clipped wings.

Cockatiels are small yet very charming and happy birds. They have a good temperament, and their energy never fails to cheer up their owners. Sure, they have their less good days – but so do we which is why we should try to understand that cockatiels can sometimes need their own space. Even though the bird is small, you should always respect their signals, especially if it’s apparent they would prefer to be alone. Cockatiels do not have any dominance or flock hierarchy. If they won’t do as you would like them to do, it’s because you haven’t trained them or because you are asking too much or too unpleasant things – not because they are trying to be bossy. Such humanization can lead to serious training mistakes that can, in time, fragment your bird’s trust.

Stock photo: Shutterstock / Susan Flashman & Eric Isselee